By Celia Back
Australian singer-songwriter Prita Grealy’s intimate gig on 3 July at The Troubadour Club— a private cellar beneath The Troubadour Cafe in Earls Court – was a testament to why European audiences are sitting up and taking notice of this captivating musician from Fremantle.
Prita – who describes her sound as a mixture of hip-hop, soul and folk – left Australia for Europe in November 2011 to pursue her love of music and travelling. After a short stint in London, she moved to Berlin in February and continues to gig across the European continent, which included a two-week tour of the UK in June and July.
I was fortunate enough to sit down with Prita for a quick chat before she took to the Troubadour stage and took the opportunity to ask her what motivated her to set up a new life in Germany’s bustling capital city.
“I wanted to be in a big city and every time I’ve been there I’ve loved it so much. It’s a cool city with cool people and my friend offered me a room just at the right time when I was trying to decide between London and Berlin,” the friendly Western Australian explained.
“Plus, Germany really loves Australians. I feel so welcome there and always get such a good response to my music. I still get a good response in England but it is, in a way, so close to home – there are a lot of Aussies here and we speak the same language. With Germany, it’s that one step away and allows me to be a bit more international.”
With a timelessly bluesy and soulful voice, and a wonderful knack for telling emotive stories through her lyrics, it’s easy to see why Prita’s been compared to the likes of KT Tunstall and Norah Jones.
“A lot of what I write about comes from my own experiences: like travelling and meeting people and love — and not love,” she told me.
“Part of my ethos, my mission, is to connect, to uplift and inspire people and a couple of my songs are also about Indigenous people. That’s something I get really fired up about – when people are racist…In Australia I feel like there’s still a lot of racism, that we’ve still got a long way to go.”
The evening itself started off with impressive supporting performances by fellow Australian singer-songwriters, Kristy Clarke, followed by Will Udall and band mate bass guitarist, Aaron Spiers. It was then Prita’s turn to take to the stage in front of an intimate gathering of fans. Performing a mix of her new and older material, it wasn’t long before Prita had me, and other members of the audience, mesmerised.
Each song, with her melodic voice and catchy guitar finger-picking, told a different story – from lyrics about love and drinking whiskey in Ireland with friends, to the fire that’s burning in her soul. It was ‘Get Out of Your Own Way’ though — an a cappella song with beat-boxing about following your own dreams, just as Prita herself is doing — that had feet tapping and heads nodding throughout.
Accompanying Prita on stage from start to finish was her friend and percussionist, Wills, who she met at an open mike night just a few months before. Playing an array of instruments including the tambourine and an upturned plastic garbage bin, Wills’ eclectic mix of improvised sounds added touches of funk (and moments of comedy) to the soulful melody to Prita’s voice and guitar playing. Prita also used a live loop pedal throughout her performance, which essentially records and plays back loops of her live performance, creating a dynamic layering of live harmonies unlike any solo performer I’d heard before.
I left Prita’s gig feeling alive, truly inspired and proud to be Australian. I was also left wondering, what’s next for this talented musician?
“I‘m just kind of taking whatever opportunities come my way,” she told me. “I’m living in Berlin, so my European tour is on-going. I’ll also be touring Australia for pretty much all of September where I’ll be doing a few WA dates, then Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney.”
I got the feeling from meeting Prita that, while she loves living in Berlin and all that Europe is offering her both musically and personally, her heart will always be in Australia.
“My youngest memories are of Fremantle, so it always feels like home. I always seem to come back to there, no matter where I go.”
The good news is that Prita will be touring the UK again at the end of November. For tour dates and to hear her music, go to Prita.com.au.